New Data Shows Seattle Rents Up 6.2% Over Year

RentalsSeattle rents continue their upward trend, and a the median price for a one-bedroom apartment will now set you back a whopping $1,858 per month. But while many markets are seeing rental rates rise at a faster pace than home values, that is not the case in Seattle, where home prices this April were 6.9 percent higher than April 2014, compared with a slightly lower 6.2 percent increase in rents. Whereas in other cities rising rents may finally push renters to take the plunge into home ownership, Seattle renters looking for a respite from high rents find an even bigger challenge in the home-buying market.

While Seattle continues to hold the final spot in the top 10 most expensive cities for renters in the U.S., prices are still well below the sky high median of $4,225 per month in San Francisco, and rents here are growing at a snail’s pace compared to Portland (8.6 percent over the year), where rents are rising twice as fast as home values.

The jump to a $15/hr minimum wage could have an impact on Seattle’s rental market, according to The Seattle Times. With the current $11 per hour minimum wage (the first phase of the planned increase to $15 per hour), even those who pay rent that is in the bottom 25 percent of all rents in the city are spending close to 45 percent of their monthly income on housing, far above the 30 percent threshold that signifies one is “overburdened” by housing costs. A $15 per hour wage would lower that percentage to a still high but more manageable 33 percent.

If you are looking for rental housing in the Seattle area, contact your local real estate agent today!

Data Shows Half Of Seattle Renters Live Alone

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According to the most recent census data reported by The Seattle Times, Seattle’s population of renters is living up to the city’s reputation for introverted residents. 51 percent of the city’s rent-paying tenants live alone, which is a surprising statistic considering that the average rent in Seattle is now $1,480, up 21 percent from five years ago. Only Atlanta has a larger percentage of solo renters, and most other cities toward the top of the list (Cincinnati, St. Louis and Pittsburgh) have average rents significantly lower than Seattle’s.

But despite the significant rental costs, it appears Seattleites are willing to pay more in order to not have to share their space. No sinks full of your roommate’s dishes (just your own), no fighting over the parking space, and no sharing any of that precious square footage. Single-occupancy units are clustered more heavily in certain areas of the city, including downtown, where three out of every four units is occupied by a single person, and other densely populated neighborhoods such as Capitol Hill, Eastlake, and Fremont.

Though the rate of solo renters is high comparable to other cities, the percentage has dropped from 56 percent in 2009, so it appears renters may be starting to feel the squeeze of rising rents. For more information about renting in Seattle, contact your local real estate agent today.

 

Current Stats On Seattle’s Apartment Rentals Market

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PubliCola has some interesting statistics on the Seattle rentals market, pulled from the April 1 city council planning committee meeting, where Mike Scott of the rental-market analysis firm Dupre+Scott gave his take on the situation. In summary:

– Supply and demand has affected rent fluctuation more than increased development has. According to Dupre+Scott, low housing supply has led to increased rents, and an excess of available apartments pushes rent down, in line with the classic supply and demand model.

– While average rent in the Seattle market as a whole has gone up in recent years, that is mostly due to the inclusion of newer apartment buildings that rent units at rates from $1,300 to $2,000 per month. Rents at older buildings (built before 2009 with rents between $800 and $1,300 per month) have actually risen at a slower rate than the cost of maintaining them has. The age of the building you choose to live in will often have a dramatic influence on what your rent will be: For apartments built in 1997 or earlier, the average rent is $1,100 per month, whereas rents in buildings newer than that average $1,700 per month.

– Think you’ll get more space for your money with those higher rents? Average square footage has actually decreased from 750 square feet in the mid-90s to 650 square feet today.

– More rental-housing development is happening in the city of Seattle than in the suburbs, and the trend seems to be toward smaller apartments in denser areas where public transportation is readily available and residents can walk to restaurants, coffee shops and grocery stores. In certain Seattle neighborhoods the number of apartments available for rent is growing by huge percentages. In Ballard, for example, the number of rental units available is expected to grow by 250 percent between 2009 and 2018, and downtown could see a 200 percent increase in the same time span.

Interested in renting in Seattle? Contact your local real estate agent for more information!

Estimating Apartment Utility Costs

When you’re searching for a new rental, utility costs aren’t always the first thing that comes to mind when configuring your financing.  You’re aware you need to plan for them, but the costs aren’t always clear, so before you sign the lease, be sure to account for extra rental expenses. During the winter months, you can expect to pay between $30-50 a month for electricity, largely depending on how much you’re at home, how careful you are about turning off the lights, and how energy efficient your appliances are.

Photo courtesy of Movingtoday.com

If you live in a multi-unit building, there is a chance there will be no extra costs for heat, and the Landlord will have added the additional costs for heat into the cost of rent. If you’re renting a house, and have gas or forced air heating you could be paying at least $100 a month in the winter time, but the best way to determine the costs would be to ask the landlord or a previous tenant. If you don’t want to spend time trying to connect to your neighbor’s Internet for free, you’ll need to plan for $30-45 a month for Internet costs, which can be cheaper if you’re bundling with cable or a phone line. It’s also never a bad idea to look into getting renter’s insurance, especially if you’re a first time renter. You never know what can happen, and planning ahead to be safe is actually very affordable, sometimes around $150 a year. For a general rule of thumb if you leave out the cable, you can expect to pay roughly 20% of your rent in utilities if you live alone, and 10% if you’re living with a roommate.